VRS270 – 7 Alternative Ways to Promote Your Vacation Rental Business

How do you get seen in a market that is so crowded? When there are thousands of similar properties vying for travelers attention it’s pretty near impossible to get to the top of the search. In this episode, we explore 7 different ways of getting your property in front of prospective guests long before they find their way to the listing sites.

This takes work so it’s not for those who want to be hands-off on their marketing. However, if you are an owner who wants to promote direct bookings or a property manager with a brand to get out there, these techniques are tried and tested and really work

Let’s take Orange Beach as an example.

Unless you are a premier partner how can you expect to compete with 9068 other rental properties on VRBO? If you have repeat guests or have already worked at bringing travelers to your website, you might have an edge over your competition, but for most owners and managers it’s a hard slog to get seen.


Learn more about your persona and target them via their favorite platforms

While it’s a huge temptation to target everyone and anyone, the ‘spaghetti against the wall’ approach just doesn’t work. That’s what your OTA listings do.

Targeted marketing means knowing where your prospective guests hang out and engaging with them there. Take some time and do the research on who is using what. Why would you spend a lot of time building Pinterest boards if your active millennial persona is spending all her time on Instagram? Think about what forums and groups she might belong to, and what blogs they might read.


Start a podcast

73 million Americans listened to podcasts last year and statistics show this is growing exponentially. On top of that, the travel industry is underserved by podcasts so there’s great opportunities in many places to be the first to create a location-specific show.

This is not about your accommodation – It is about your area. Most guests will research the location before they decide on where to stay so if they get to your travel show and hear all about the great things to do and see and then hear a brief sponsored ad describing your business, and a link to your website, you may be their first choice.

When you position yourself as a location expert, travelers will naturally gravitate to your referred resources….you just become one of them.


Use Twitter to find lifestyle and travel bloggers

Getting yourself on the radar of mommy and travel bloggers can get you visibility across your target market quicker than hoping your own blog will get seen, particularly if it’s a new one.

Twitter is a great place to seek out influential bloggers as they will all be promoting their latest posts on there. You just have to find them, begin engaging with them, and it becomes easier to promote your location. Remember this is about getting them to come to your area first and finding your property second.


Get into Facebook destination groups

Find the Facebook groups that talk about your destination, and if you can’t find one, start one up. I searched for an Orange Beach group and came across this one that has over 9000 members.

Get in there and start engaging with people – telling them about the best restaurants, the Gulf State Park trails, and the dog park. Of course, if you have a podcast, you can promote that because it is just further information on the area.

The key with any group is to avoid outright promotion for your property – that can come after you’ve staked your place as the destination expert.


Create a flyer that can go into your local tourist information office

This is probably one of the simplest things you can do. Go to a professional graphic designer and have this created – it’s not the time to economize and do it yourself. Countless travelers visit these places and pick up local information while they are on vacation. They may not be booking your place this time, but they have your information for the next trip.

Look for other places where you can display your leaflet. In my area, our local food co-op likes to promote local businesses and you can find several cottage rental flyers in there. Since our personas include people who love to buy local produce when they are on vacation, this is a great place to drop marketing literature.


Create short informational videos about your area

Continuing our Orange Beach example, a search of YouTube offered some older videos that would give some great ideas for your YouTube channel. Look for what gets the most views and do something better.

Either learn how to create intro and outro graphics that show your website URL or listing link, or find someone on Fiverr or Upwork who can do this for you.

Popular videos are the ‘how to’ genre such as how to fish, how to get in and out of a kayak, how to parasail and suggestions on things to do.


Become a Trip Advisor destination expert

The Trip Advisor forums are a popular place for travelers to ask questions and get answers from a range of contributors. While you cannot refer them to your site or promote yourself in any way, over time you can become known as a destination expert if you offer enough help to others. At that point, you may be able to include a link to a blog or a podcast in a response.

Here’s a recent question on the forum that anyone knowledgeable about Orange Beach and fishing could answer.

You should have realized by now that the key to attracting guests is to show your love and knowledge of the area and to freely share what you think will make their vacation the best ever. These aren’t secrets so it doesn’t matter if a prospective guest finds your information and ultimately books another property. Your reputation will grow and over time you’ll find the direct bookings growing.

You need to be in it for the long haul though. This is not an overnight strategy. However, if you’re willing to put the time in to create your position in the market it will pay off over time.